Thursday, 25 May 2023

Are Croatian Prices Going to Keep Rising? Cheap Food Could be History

May the 25th, 2023 - With inflation still very much a threat to our bank accounts and back pockets, are Croatian prices going to just keep on rising? It seems that the period of cheap food might well be one we don't end up ever returning to.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, the consequences of the global coronavirus pandemic and the current energy crisis, as well as numerous natural disasters caused by climate change, have led to a drastic increase in Croatian prices for food over more recent years, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has only pushed it further. The big question is whether food will ever become cheap again, and this topic was discussed at the Green Plan in Croatian Agriculture conference, which was recently held in Zagreb.

The European Union (EU) has provided an enormous 264 billion euros to European farmers, and with various other national funds, this amount will be increased to 307 billion euros in total. How will this all actually reflect on customers who are tired of paying constantly increasing Croatian prices, however?

Marija Vuckovic, Croatia's Minister of Agriculture, confirmed that this country has now almost completely implemented the EU Green Plan in its national regulations, and now their application in practice, among the farmers themselves, is underway. She added that in the wake of numerous ecological European requirements, several additional models of agricultural incentives were introduced through the so-called Environmental schemes that will be generous, but also stricter in terms of achieving any desired goals.

"This regards the sum of 468 million euros payable through the Environmental Schemes over a period of five years, and it's been made clear that these are large funds. So far, we have supported 300 projects for energy projects of renewable energy sources in the field of agriculture, and for the next period, we've foreseen 30 million euros for future projects in agriculture and nutrition,'' said Vuckovic, adding that all other green transition projects within the scope of agriculture are being considered, for which a total of 223 million euros is planned.

Ultimately, the strategic project is the generational renewal of domestic agriculture through the inclusion of young people in this sector because, as the minister pointed out, agriculture will not be sustainable in the long term without the engagement of that demographic. She warned that the policies related to the green transition are all connected because without investments there can be no profitable production, and without that, there can be no sustainable regional development with functional rural communities. In the end, all this will be maintained on biodiversity, but also on the Croatian prices for food themselves.

"Will Croatian prices rise? Many believe that they will. Are the days of cheap food behind us? Well, we can only look at this in the short term, and we can predict for the future to some extent. It's reasonable to expect that floods, or sometimes droughts, will affect the supply and thus the price of food. When we look at the longer term, will the EU Green Plan lead to an increase in prices? This must also be viewed much more broadly. It's a fact that enormous amounts of food are wasted across Europe, and I'm convinced that an economic calculation must be sought precisely in better food management," said Minister Vuckovic. According to European Union statistics, the average household in the EU throws away an astounding 600 euros worth of food per year, while in Croatia it's at the level of 200 to 300 euros.

For more, make sure to check out our news section.

Monday, 22 August 2022

Drought Sees Minister Marija Vuckovic Announce Hefty Aid Packet

August the 22nd, 2022 - Croatian Agriculture Minister Marija Vuckovic has announced a very welcome 200 million kuna package of measures for the enfeebled agriculture sector, brought to its knees with worry over the ongoing drought.

As Morski writes, due to the severe drought, the Ministry of Agriculture has announced an extraordinary measure for farmers worth around 200 million kuna, as revealed by Minister Marija Vuckovic on Sunday in Zlatar Bistrica in Krapina-Zagorje County.

Due to the severe drought and extreme temperatures, Croatian farmers from up and down the country asked the aforementioned ministry for a moratorium to be placed on exports, and according to Minister Marija Vuckovic, a decision has already been made. It refers to a deviation from the rules related to obtaining support, that is, direct payment advances at the end of October and the beginning of November this year.

''Farmers can't fulfill all the requirements related to obtaining this advance and their reasons for wanting this are justified. When a natural disaster is declared, we can see that the counties have really begun to declare justified natural disasters due to significant damage from the drought. As such, they won't have to meet the requirements that are normally projected, and they will be able to receive support,'' explained Marija Vuckovic.

Within the framework of the wider rural development programme, the ministry also announced an extraordinary measure that will be worth around 200 million kuna in total.

''Such a measure was made possible primarily because of Russia's brutal, unjustified and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine. However, all farmers who feel an increase in costs and a decrease in income, and who apply good agro-environmental practices, as this is one of the basic conditions, will be able to use this measure, which will be worth up to 15 thousand euros for them as a flat-rate support,'' Vuckovic said, adding that the ministry will consider other ways to help farmers as well.

Minister Marija Vuckovic said that the Croatian Government is trying with all possible measures to reduce the impact of the crisis on Croatian residents and is trying to help enterprises, and said that they are currently working on a new autumn package.

When asked by a journalist whether there is a possibility that due to the drought Croatia will first satisfy its needs and then turn to exporting, Minister Marija Vuckovic replied that the minister is seriously considering all the demands being made by the nation's hard-hit farmers, but emphasises that the path to restricting traffic on the single European market is not a good one to take, as reported by HRT.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Floraart Opens At Bundek Lake

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - The 56th edition of the Floraart flower show was formally opened by Mayor Tomislav Tomašević at Zagreb's Bundek Lake on Thursday.

This year, there are 160 exhibitors with over 100,000 plants.

Mayor Tomašević particularly thanked guests from the Republic of Korea and Korean Ambassador Sung-Wook Hong, for attending the opening ceremony.

Also in attendance was Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković,  who hailed cooperation with Korea.

The minister said that local flower growers, particularly young entrepreneurs in this sector, had been supported under various schemes totalling HRK 15 million (€2 million).

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Farm Minister Promises Aid to Beekeepers After Mass Death of Bees

ZAGREB, 21 April 2022 - The government will provide financial assistance to beekeepers in Međimurje after the mass death of bees, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said on Thursday after a government session.

She recalled that the government had helped local beekeepers after the scourge of bees in 2020 when about 40 honey farmers were given 1,300 bee colonies and the aid was worth HRK 1 million.

Vučković said that now the authorities were waiting for the findings of a veterinary inspection to establish whether the mass death was caused by a contagious disease or if the bees were killed by the effects of the use of protective chemical agents. Recently, an estimated 17.5 million bees in about 350 beehives in Međimurje have been found poisoned.

Local apiarists say that the wrong application of protective agents in fruit growing as well as in rapeseed cultivation has led to the mass poisoning of bees.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Agriculture Ministry Awards 33 Rural Development Programme Contracts

ZAGREB, 13 April 2022 - The Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday awarded 33 contracts worth over HRK 65 million from the Rural Development Programme.

Minister Marija Vučković said the aid focused on those transforming agriculture by increasing productivity and capacity as well as using new technologies.

We are also focused on improving living conditions in small local communities, she added.

Higher food prices

Asked by the press about higher food prices, Vučković said inflation started being higher than expected last year already and that the government responded promptly, notably in cattle breeding, which she said was the first sector to feel the inflation in terms of fodder price hikes.

"Inflation has continued this year and we can no longer say that it is transitory", she said, adding that inflation has picked up also due to the war in Ukraine.

Inflation "is first and foremost driven by energy prices", but it manifests considerably in food prices as well, the minister said.

She recalled that the government adopted a set of measures worth HRK 4.8 billion to mitigate energy price hikes and said that, if necessary, it would adopt additional measures to ease the blow to purchasing power and to reduce the risk of any kind of poverty.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Croatian Agriculture Minister and Albanian Ambassador Meet to Discuss Trade

ZAGREB, 30 March 2022 - Croatian Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković met with Albanian Ambassador Riza Poda on Wednesday to discuss common trade issues and ways of expanding bilateral cooperation in agriculture, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.

It was agreed that Vučković would soon visit Albania as part of efforts by both countries to expand bilateral cooperation in agriculture, and further strengthen trade.

The two countries have excellent relations and work together to achieve their common interests through mutual political and technical support.

The Croatian Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development and the Albanian Agency for Rural Development have already signed a cooperation agreement, and next week the Croatian Agency is organising a workshop on improving the quality of internal audits for a delegation from the Albanian Agency.

In 2020, the two countries' agriculture ministries agreed veterinary conditions for exports of egg products and designed a veterinary certificate, given the considerable potential of the Albanian market for exports of animal products from Croatia.

Croatia has a surplus in trade in agricultural and food products with Albania and a high coverage of imports by exports of as much as 974%, the ministry said.

Albania is a considerable export market for small pelagic fish from Croatia, notably anchovy.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Croatia Will Have Enough Food, Agriculture Minister Says

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said on Wednesday the government would do all that was necessary to contribute to citizens' food security and that Croatia would have enough food, despite disrupted international commodity trends due to the war in Ukraine.

Responding to questions from the press after a cabinet session, she said the government was considering various models to ensure the necessary supplies.

"Croatia will also do everything that is necessary to enable farmers and fishermen to work", she said, adding that today the government adopted decisions to aid farmers and fishermen and to procure HRK 594.6 million worth of strategic commodities.

Asked what those commodities were, she said it was necessary to procure corn, wheat, pork and turkey meat, oil and milk.

Farmers did a good autumn sowing despite the difficulties they ae exposed to, she said, adding that preparations for the spring sowing are going well and that preparations are being made for the autumn sowing. "That's a guarantee that Croatia will have enough food."

However, it is necessary to take this seriously given that Ukraine and Russia export more than 25% of the world's wheat, almost 20% of corn and 50% of sunflower oil, the minister said.

Reporters asked her how much of that Croatia produced, how much it would need, and guarantees that what was produced would not be bought by others.

Vučković said last year's wheat balance was 930,000 tonnes, where more than 500,000 tonnes was exported and 210,000 spent.

"We need 150,000 tonnes until the next sowing, a smaller part is available on the market, but commodity stockpiles are being ensured", she said, adding that trade has been affected by supply disruptions.

Croatia is very active internationally, proposing many measures to the European Commission, she said, confident that some of them will be adopted.

At the closing of today's session, the government adopted a decision to replenish strategic wheat, corn and rye supplies.

For more on Croatia's food security, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Farmers Say There is Enough Wheat

ZAGREB, 2 March 2022 - Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković and farmers, who held talks on the  stocks of cereals, concluded that there were sufficient amounts of wheat and that there was no need for concern in light of the Ukraine crisis, the ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.

Farmers reported that there are sufficient stocks and there is no need to worry about any possible shortage of wheat.

Noting that Ukraine is the fifth largest wheat exporter and the biggest exporter of seed oils, participants at the meeting agreed that due to the crisis in Ukraine the sowing season will be particularly challenging and the survival of other agricultural products is an important factor for farmers.

The meeting also discussed the impact of the increased price of gas and mineral fertilisers on the sowing season and also the autumn sowing season.

Representatives of the meat industry commended the ministry's measures so far but expressed their fear over current challenges facing the livestock breeding sector.

Vučković underscored that she shared their concern over market disruptions, assessing the further interest in the investment cycle as positive, which began with a call for applications to invest in repro centres and continued with investments in fattening facilities.

She added that during 2021 Croatia managed to notify a large number of measures before the European Commission, and will continue to do so with the objective of finding a solution to these specific circumstances.

The ministry recalled that it is preparing a programme for agriculture and fisheries, valued at HRK 250 million, and recalled the government's package of measures to buffer increased energy prices, including the lowering of VAT on food and agricultural inputs to the 5-percent rate.

For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Croatian and Kosovo Agriculture Ministers Meet in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 9 Feb 2022 - Croatian Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković met with Kosovo's Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, Faton Peci, in Zagreb on Wednesday to discuss ways of intensifying cooperation in agriculture.

The meeting took place as part of a three-day visit by a Kosovo delegation, and the ministers agreed to update the 2008 memorandum of understanding in the coming period.

Kosovo is actively preparing to obtain the status of an official candidate for European Union membership and would appreciate a further exchange of knowledge and experience with Croatian experts in agriculture and forestry, the Croatian ministry said in a statement, adding that there is a possibility for joint projects through the TAIEX technical assistance programme or through twinning programmes.

Peci invited Vučković for an official visit to Kosovo.

Kosovo is interested in Croatian companies investing in its agricultural and food sector, and in this context, the possibility of organising a meeting between business people during the Croatian minister's visit to Kosovo was mentioned.

Peci also showed an interest in Croatian expertise in the use of biomass and the construction of power plants, as well as in heating and electric power production.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Vučković Presents New Contracts in Sisak Under Rural Development Programme

ZAGREB, 31 January 2022 - Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković presented farmers in Sisak-Moslavina County on Monday with four new contracts for aid from the Rural Development Programme for local projects.

Vučković said that projects worth HRK 1.18 billion had been agreed so far for this county and that most of this amount had been paid out. She said that this had helped farmers maintain and develop their production during the times of the coronavirus pandemic and earthquakes.

An additional HRK 1.2 billion in aid has been paid out from other programmes since 2014, which makes it a total of HRK 2.4 billion, the minister stressed.

Vučković said that new measures for Sisak-Moslavina County were also in the pipeline, including a further HRK6.5 million "to encourage new demographic trends", and additional aid to help farmers cope with increased costs due to the rise in energy and mineral fertilizer prices.

Sisak-Moslavina County Prefect Ivan Celjak said he was confident the ministry would continue to be a partner to the farmers in repairing the earthquake damage, increasing production and marketing their products.

For more, check out our politics section.

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